Wednesday, June 30, 2010

chicken salad sandwich

No, Everyday Food did not have a recipe for a boston lettuce sandwich. This was my lunch of Chicken Salad sandwich. I'm not sure there is much to say other than it's the simplest way to use up leftover cooked chicken. It was great and can be reworked in so many ways. Did we even need a recipe for chicken salad?

asian chicken soup and lentils with carrots and spinach

Here is our super-healthy dinner last night. Asian Chicken Soup with a side of Lentils with Carrots and Spinach.

This is the first meal where I can say all the produce was locally grown! Yep, all our produce needs are in season right now and it feels pretty good to not have to rely on the supermarket for items like snow peas. Speaking of which, are so much larger and bountiful at the farmer's market than at the grocery store.

When it comes to making the Asian Chicken Soup in the future
I feel that the vegetables in the soup could be chopped a little smaller and Nuno thinks a little more fresh ginger would be nice. I might even skip using soba noodles because I'm so finicky about the done-ness of these noodles and it's impossible to control that in a soup.
As for the lentil dish, I really don't think this could serve 4 people. We blitzed a portion for Owen and managed to finish the rest of it between us. This is the sort of side dish I'd love to have the next day for lunch, so I'll be doubling it next time around.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

grilled chicken with roasted-pepper sauce and glazed shallots

Here is last night's Grilled Chicken with Roasted-Pepper Sauce and Glazed Shallots.

It was nice to have Nuno bar-b-que chicken while I prepped the rest of the meal. Things can get a little hairy in the kitchen co-ordinating several recipes and Owen's dinner all in hopes of a simultaneous completion. The roasted red pepper sauce was 'meh' along with the chicken. I mean, lets face it, chicken breast de-boned and without skin on the BBQ is dry. So that's the last time we'll be making that one. One the other hand, the glazed shallots turned out absolutely amazing. It's not terribly appetizing to eat an onion for dinner, but these are really nice & sweet and came together perfectly.

I haven't really updated much on how the progress of feeding Owen has been going. I always prep Owen's meals from scratch. Actually, I'm probably a bit of a crazy mom because I will only buy produce that's organic and farmed locally. Luckily, with all my efforts, Owen doesn't seem to be rejecting anything. He's eating more and more and that includes three meals a day and nursing in between. Since he's tried all meats (and seems to enjoy salmon the most) I've started him on vegetables now. His favourites are sweet potato, spinach and carrots. Every morning Owen has a piece of whole grain toast cut into thirds length wise (makes for great finger food). It's a terrible mess and he only ends up eating half of the toast since the other half ends up, oh, everywhere. But I feel there is value in having Owen control how much he eats and begins to learn to feed himself.

In the past couple days I've started him on Balkan-style yogurt with his cereal, rehydrated unsulphured apricots an
d local apples. I steam most of his food and then process it in the food processor. I keep the left over water from steaming to reach a nice consistency with his meals. It's a bit of a perk when some of our Everyday Food meals are suitable for Owen, but that's certainly not a daily occurrence and he tends to find a whole dinner of new tastes a little overwhelming.

Monday, June 28, 2010

mushroom and scallion frittata and strawberry slush

Sunday morning Nuno and I made the Mushroom & Scallion Frittata for breakfast. This was nothing short of spectacular. I've always wanted to make a frittata that finishes in the oven, and it's a great technique to get that crispy brown top. The eggs and scallions were from the St. Catharines farmer's market and tasted very fresh. I'd almost compare it to a crust-less quiche. I don't enjoy quiche because the pastry gets soggy, so this frittata is really everything I ever wanted out of a quiche.

Then for dinner I made Strawberry Slush, which is basically a way more delicious strawberry daiquiri. Yes, the onslaught of fresh strawberries never ends. Nuno picked up two pints of fresh berries from a farm stand close to his work on Friday. This was a great way to use up the just past ripe and not so picture perfect berries.

Speaking of ripe berries, Nuno discovered a trick to keeping them fresh. If you can't manage to use up the berries the day you purchase them, store them in jars and keep them in the fridge. I know this goes beyond most common fresh produce storing reason, but somehow it works and it has really helped us get the most of our berries this year.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

online recipe resources

I've come across a couple great sites for recipes that I'm so excited to share!

The first is Kraft Canada's 'What's Cooking' magazine online.
Dating back to their early issues in 2000, Kraft has compiled all their recipes they published in What's Cooking and organized them according to issue. I'm hoping to spend a bit more time browsing around, but here is the link.

The second is Everyday Food's Online Recipe Index. I've never seen anything like this on the internet before. It's set up like a digital magazine recipe index.

They have published a couple digest recipe indexes before and I use mine all the time! It really helps maximize the use of all the Everyday Food back issues. But to have one now online, well, this one is so far superior to the printed copies. It is sorted alphabetically by keyword and if the recipe is online links are provided. I could spend hours browsing this index because not only is it full of recipes, the back pages provide their How-To's.With both hard and online copies I use it mostly for searching by key ingredients. The clever catch here is that in order to access it you must be an Everyday Food magazine subscriber. I highly recommend checking this site if you can get on it. Here's the link.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


The term 'Grinder' is a regional name for a stuffed to the max submarine sandwich. I love to use this term when eating a huge American sandwich. I first became aware of grinders when I had to work on some ads for sub shops in Maryland. Then a couple years ago Nuno and I were in Boston and Nuno's cousin asked us if we'd ever had a "Grindah". I looked at him and repeated, "Grind-ah?" back to him in the Boston accent. It took a couple back and forths before I realized he was talking about Grinder sandwiches. It was hilarious and embarrassing. Here a photo of my very first Boston Grinder I had with Nuno's cousin.

Yesterday at Wegman's I saw that all the locals were lining up for deli fresh sandwiches in the Take-Out section of the store. I was curious to see what it was all about so I bought a Grinder! Actually, it's really just a turkey ranch variation on the grinder. But man, this is a small, and I could only eat half. But Wegman's sandwiches are fantastic.

It boosted my love for this store ten fold. I'm telling you, if I had known about these grinders when I was pregnant with those sub cravings, I don't know what I would have done. Probably ended up going into labour over there.

groceries in the states

a.k.a - Junk Food Re-up. I talk about eating freshly prepared foods and home cooking often but I'm not beyond casual indulgences. I love food and even junk food is perfectly OK. In moderation of course.

As any Canadian knows, there are some grocery items that don't see the light of day up here but they somehow make it onto our radar. Living in Niagara has a real benefit of cross-border shopping for these items. I happened to need to do a couple exchanges at Target, so to maximize my time in the US, I decided to stop by Wegman's Grocery Store. I love shopping here but will typically spend only 10 minutes grabbing a couple things and then fleeing. But being on mat leave affords me a little more time to spend shopping for groceries. Since I spent a little more time at Wegman's yesterday and am now very familiar with their grocery selection, I figured I'd grab a frequent shopper's card while there. Looks like I've started a new habit.

For over a month now I've been keeping a mental list of items I can't seem to find in Canada. I somehow managed to find everything I was after at Wegman's. I'm very pleased to have found, hands down, the most difficult to find grocery item from Everyday Food. Spinach linguine! I'm not sure why, but even at the most stocked Italian markets it wasn't anywhere to be found. Not even in the fresh pasta sections of every grocery store (including Whole Foods). Also, I hope these M&M's Pretzels make it up here to Canada. I can't stand M&M's but the pretzel version is awesome!

Friday, June 25, 2010

prosciutto fig-jam sandwich

Here is last night's Prosciutto & Fig Jam Sandwich.

This is a quick and easy dinner. The only real work was making the fig jam from scratch, but that is almost laugh-able at how easy it was. It made an entire pint of jam and can be stored in the fridge for up to a month, so I'm pleased about that. It'll be great on crackers with a slice of asiago.

I decided to check out Portage Bakery in Niagara Falls yesterday on a whim. It is a very authentic Italian bakery where as a kid, my dad would often pick up their sliced white bread. This bread is delicious and quite renowned around Niagara. I've never had any bread like it since. I didn't end up buying a loaf because I try and steer clear of processed white bread, but I did end up buying the ingredients for the Prosciutto Fig-Jam Sandwich (the loaf, fresh sliced prosciutto and asiago cheese). Oh, and I indulged in a couple baked goods - a pear & ricotta dessert and a pizzelle. Best pizzelle I've ever had and the pear & ricotta square was also quite good because it wasn't doused in sugar - it was exactly what I was looking for.

It was here that I thought I might start blogging about shopping for food. There are many markets, farm stands, bakeries and wineries in Niagara that I'd like to keep track of. I kinda feel like Anna Olson in her show, Fresh with how I journey out for fresh ingredients to use in my home baking and cooking. I'm still fairly new at learning what is in season and when, so I'm looking forward to this summer of experimenting with local and seasonal food. And a little extra boost is to shop for organic produce for Owen. It should be a fun summer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

spicy beef fajitas

With the left over flank steak I made Spicy Beef Fajitas.

This meal is what Nuno and I ate quite regularly before cooking through Everyday Food. The only revision to this recipe was the addition of jalapeno monterey jack cheese we had to use up. It's been ages since I've worked with a jalapeno and any time before this I usually carefully grated it. This recipe indicated to remove the seeds and ribs and I used my bare hands and fingernails to do this because I was so distracted talking to Nuno about his day. I then touched my lip to discover the most intense burning sensation and was pretty mad at myself for being so careless. What was I going to do about Owen? Well, I'm still nursing with rubber gloves one day later! But it was a great dinner despite my burning fingers as I blog this entry.

flank steak with parsley sauce and bulgar pilaf with dried cranberries

This is Flank Steak with Parsley Sauce and Bulgar Pilaf with Dried Cranberries.

I'm not sure why, but these two recipes took a long time to make. I don't think I really took much time to coordinate them and jumped right into things without taking any of the timing into account. But everything turned out and it wasn't too bad of a meal. I don't think I'll make the Flank Steak w/ Parsley Sauce again only because the sauce was so pungent I tasted it all night due to the raw garlic flavour. It was so yummy at the time, but not so great at 4am. The Bulgar Pilaf was quite delicious and like most other salads and side dishes in this book, it lasts for a couple days (even improves in flavour after one day). I really enjoyed it the next day for lunch.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ice cream! only just the beginning...

On Father's Day I suggested we grab some ice cream at Anderson's. I kept carrying on and on about how delicious this custard ice cream in WNY is (I guess they are renowned for it kinda like Buffalo Wings, Beef on Weck & Peanut Stick). When I was there last time I saw they make a sugar free custard soft serve so that sealed the deal for Nuno. Lucky for me, the Anderson's closest to the Lake Effect Diner had Banana as their flavour on Father's Day. Not only that, every dad recieves a free Kit Kat Arctic Swirl (like a DQ Blizzard).

Here it is in all it's glory.

Katie got a cone and couldn't finish it.

There was a Target right next door to Anderson's and they had ice cream machines on sale. So I snapped one right up. I've been wanting to make ice cream for weeks now which was brought on by all these plentiful strawberries. Even though I live a hop, skip and a jump away from Avondale Dairy Bar, I really don't like their ice cream. It's friggin' so expensive! I shutter when they WEIGH your treat to determine a price - which always works out to $7 on my most conservative orders. Anderson's is two bucks, richer and creamier. Arg! Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Anyways...

I started with Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. I had all the ingredients right away in my fridge to make it. The homemade ice cream guru right now is David Lebovitz who's taken the culinary literary world by storm with, many books, one of which is "Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas and Sweet Accompaniments". Through his blog I found the recipe I used to make this frozen yogurt.

Just a couple small revisions to this. I strained low fat yogurt and was left with only half a cup, so I made the rest with half & half. This worked perfectly because it supplied the fat that wasn't present in the yogurt. The strawberries are from Bry-Anne Farms at the St. Catharines Farmer's Market.

Here's my dessert for lunch today. My dad was around Niagara-On-The-Lake and brought around the first picking of cherries from a local stand. They aren't quite ready to be made into jam, but are nice for snacking.

pasta with roasted summer vegetables and basil

Yesterday was the first day of summer so I made Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Basil.

All our vegetables were from the farmer's market and Harvest Barn. Although the recipe calls for summer squash, grape tomatoes, garlic and red onion I also added zucchini and asparagus into the mix. Not only did I stray from the type of pasta suggested and the vegetable selection, I also modified the cooking process. It was such a beautiful & warm day I couldn't bear to do as the instructions say on this recipe and heat the oven to 400 for 40 minutes. So I did as this similar recipe for Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables (and a favourite recipe of ours) indicates and pan fried on the stove top. I chose to use Scoobi-Do pasta because I figured Owen could munch on a few corkscrews. He didn't get too far with that, so I pureed this unseasoned pasta dish for him. He didn't jump on board with that. But can you blame him? This is a whole whack of new flavours. So he ended up with chicken and cereal.

But for us we really enjoyed this dish. The basil does it. I love how the fresh basil enhances the flavour of all the vegetables. So good, but not as good as the Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables recipe so I'll probably just stick with that one.

Monday, June 21, 2010

father's day and banana-oat smoothies

I knew we had to make Father's Day very special for Nuno since we were celebrating his first one ever! He awoke to a surprise of Owen in his I Heart Dad sleeper. Among his many gifts, Nuno is pictured here in his Goonies shirt and wearing his new belt and new wallet.

Since the plan was to go to the Lake Effect Diner for brunch, I made a light breakfast of a Banana-Oat Smoothies. This is so delicious, I think I'll make this many more times in the future. Again, this is a recipe that Owen could enjoy as well. I just prepped the smoothie without the honey (which babies are not to eat), took out his portion first and then added the honey for Nuno and my servings. This is very sweet and Owen didn't really seem to enjoy it. I decided to add his baby oatmeal to his smoothie to make it a little thicker and more palatable.

Then it as off to B-lo for some Lake Effect Diner delicous-ness. We saw a Diner's, Drive-In's & Dives episode at this location and were so impressed by the effort that goes into some of the food we just had to give it a shot. This is a true diner - it is a small cart from Pennsylvania transplanted onto Main Street Buffalo serving all-day breakfast, sandwiches and all the usual diner-style suspects.

I had a reuben sandwich while Nuno went for a breakfast which included eggs, corned beef, red-eye gravy, homemade sausage patties.

Although it was Father's Day, Nuno ended up having to do a bit of storyboard work at the end of the day. But the majority of the day was exactly how he wanted to spend it. We finished the day with a beautiful walk up the canal with Owen. I said it before and I'll say it again, Nuno is a loving dad and husband. We are so lucky to have him in our lives.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

orzo with chicken, corn and green beans and shaved beet salad

Saturday night was Orzo with Chicken and Green Beans and Shaved Beet Salad. There are several things about this meal that I really like. First off, it's a make ahead meal. Secondly, you can use left-over shredded chicken. So the only real effort that goes into this meal is to cook the orzo and green beans and then sautee garlic and corn. Everything is then mixed together and chilled (or served at room temperature). Nuno and I spend Saturday mornings shopping at the St. Catharines market for as much of our week's produce as possible. The green beans were from the market and there really wasn't anything in this recipe that wouldn't be great for Owen.

Since the seasoning is the very last step in this recipe, an unseasoned portion of Chicken and Orzo was pureed for Owen for dinner. This was a very light dinner, so in the future I'll probably just make this as a lunch.

Now on to my most hellish cooking experience of all time. Slicing beets! There is certainly a level of hell reserved for those who will spend eternity slicing beets on a mandolin with rubber gloves. Why is this such a horrible experience? Well, first off, after washing the beets you must peel them. Rubber gloves, slippery beets and their spherical shape all make for the most awkward cooking experience anyone could ever go through. I kept having the beets slip out of my hands and onto my light shirt, onto the floor, into the sink and all over the counter. It was not fun. I swear this one off. I will never again make Saved Beet Salad!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

grilled greek chicken kebabs with mint-feta sauce and lemon and pine-nut rice

Friday night I made Grilled Greek Chicken Kebabs with Mint-Feta Sauce and Lemon and Pine-Nut Rice.

I get so sick of grilled veggies come the end of July that I typically say I don't like kebabs - period. I hope it's not because this is the first recipe to crank up the barbeque for, but I'll go so far as to say this recipe has changed my mind. It's so delicious I want to make it again - like now! The side of Mint-Feta Sauce is so creamy and a perfect match to the chicken and vegetables. This was such a great Friday night dinner.

strawberry icebox cheesecake

It sometimes feels as though our fridge is over-flowing with food. And I'm crazy about throwing any of it away. I feel an obligation to use up as much as we can because it's essentially throwing money out. It's also become a bit of a fun challenge to take a look at what we need to use up and devise a menu plan around it. That's how I invented my first ever dessert recipe.

Left over ricotta, cottage cheese, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Those ingredients brought to mind a real retro icebox cake! But I haven't ever made one before. So I pulled out Kraft's 'What's Cooking' free magazine collection I've had delivered for years. I've never tried anything from it because I always saw it as a bunch of recipes created to have you run out to your nearest WalMart and buy Kraft Singles and assemble a jazzed up grilled cheese sandwich. But this magazine does in fact have loads of ideas that you can use. So I applied what I read about icebox cake recipes to assemble my own take on it.

Strawberry Icebox Cheesecake
1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup cottage cheese

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 Jell-O Vanilla instant pudding

1/3 cup strawberry jam (from the jam I made last week)
1 tbsp lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon

10 strawberries, chopped

27 graham crackers

1/2 cup whipped cream

5-10 whole strawberries for garnish. Sliced or whole

In a food processor blitz ricotta & cottage cheese until very smooth. Transfer blended cheese mixture to a mixer with a paddle attachment. Begin slowly beating in 2 cups of milk taking time to scrape down sides of mixer bowl. Once well blended slowly add sugar and then vanilla pudding powder and beat for 1 minute further. Finally add strawberry jam and lemon juice & zest until incorporated. Stir in chopped strawberries.
In a 9x9 baking dish layer graham crackers and pudding mixture in thirds. Spread whipped cream on top and whole (or sliced) strawberries. Refrigerate overnight to set.

It actually worked out amazingly!! My family enjoyed it so I'm really pleased. Next time I give this a go I might just end up using Cool Whip (which most icebox cakes seem to ask for) to help it set up a bit more firm. I've never bought Cool Whip before and the idea of it kinda grosses me out. So we'll see...

Friday, June 18, 2010

brown-rice bowl with shrimp, snow peas and avocado

Here is last night's Brown-Rice Bowl with Shrimp, Snow Peas and Avocado.

This is one of Nuno and my all-time favourite dinners. We've been eating it since it was first published in 2008 and it's probably the Everyday Food recipe I've made most. It became a little hard to remember the title of the dinner, so I call it California Roll Bowl because that's exactly what it tastes like. I remember telling people about this dinner and most people think it's a very strange combination and it doesn't help that it's not the prettiest of dishes in a photo. But if you enjoy the shrimp & avocado combo, this meal is a must try. I'd say this is quick, which it is, but there are two mind-numbing tasks you have to get through for the pay off. Peeling shrimp and trimming the snow peas. I hate the monotony of it, and I don't recommend thinking you are taking a short-cut by buying pre-cooked and peeled shrimp. Just warning, they are hard as rocks and lack flavour.

Through making this dinner over the years I've made one small revision to it. The recipe indicates to cut ginger into small match sticks. I find the ginger flavour a little too overwhelming that way, so I grate the ginger. It's gives just a little spicy punch to the dinner without taking away from the shrimp and avocado flavour.

What was especially nice about this dinner was how it transitioned easy for Owen to enjoy. I scooped a bit of brown rice, steamed snow peas and half an avocado in the food processor and pureed. He seemed to enjoy it. I've already had him munching on avocado slices (which he squishes through his fingers, but we get a little in his mouth). I love the idea of Owen eating avocado - it's so healthy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

chopped salad with pork and buttermilk dressing

Here is our Chopped Salad with Pork and Buttermilk Dressing.

This is a very simple recipe, just basically an assembly of ingredients. It's a great way to use up leftover pork tenderloin. My favourite part of this salad is the cubes of pepper jack cheese. I probably won't end up making this again because Everyday Food had a killer recipe for a Chef's Salad with Turkey, Avocado and Jack Cheese which I much prefer to eat and recommend highly. I sometimes sub in turkey lunch meat instead of the real thing because don't enjoy fresh turkey as much as turkey cold cuts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

roasted-pork club with scallion mayonnaise, dill pickle spears and quinoa and cucumber salad

Here are three Everyday Food recipes in one meal. Roasted-Pork Club with Scallion Mayonnaise, Dill Pickle Spears & Quinoa and Cucumber Salad.

I made dill pickles! I'm still in shock with how easy it is. I think I'll be making them fresh from now on to cut down on the clutter in the fridge. The pork club has left over pork tenderloin, bacon, scallion mayonnaise and swiss cheese. The recipe calls for alfalfa sprouts, which I love, but I'm not sure they are the safest thing to be eating so I used Boston lettuce we had on hand. The quinoa salad is a perfect summer salad consisting of quinoa, English cucumber, parsley and seasoning. This is a very portable dinner, so we met up at Happy Rolph's last night and had a family picnic outside.

I've decided to make some advances with Owen's feeding. Up until this point he's been eating pureed meats and cereals. But yesterday I ended up at a gal's house who was speaking about Baby Led Weaning. I'm still grasping the idea, but I decided to apply what I learned from the concept to how Owen eats. Basically you are giving the baby handful sized portion of soft food and letting them hand feed themselves. I decided this meal was a great opportunity to give it a shot. Owen had a long slice of cucumber, whole wheat toast stick and slices of avocado. Since everything he plays with goes in his mouth, he knew exactly what to do with them. We saw several bites and a big mess, but it really feels like this is a better way for babies to learn to eat rather than obsessively mashing all their food and feeding them from a spoon. So we'll see if we stick with it. I plan on still offering all meats, vegetables and fruits pureed as an option, but we'll start him out with his milk, then whole pieces of food and finally a spoon-fed puree.

Monday, June 14, 2010

owen at seven months

I wanted to document Owen at seven months today. I can't believe how time has passed so quickly. We are seeing a lot of changes in even just the past week.

Smiling, laughing, kisses, cuddles, naps, playing, songs, being nothing but wonderful.

His personality is so sweet and totally adorable. What a joy it is to be a mom!

mozzarella and grape skewers

Here are Mozzarella and Grape Skewers

Just a simple Sunday snack with the family. Funny enough my dad made shish kababs for Sunday dinner. Looks like we were on the same brain wave.

Speaking of skewered foods, I'm totally hooked on chocolate covered frozen bananas! I wrote a few weeks back about how I got started with the idea. Well, I'm now making many different varieties & combinations and it's really a fun way to spend time with friends and family. We even make sugar free bananas on the go for Nuno!

Here is my most recent concoctions:

left to right: peanuts (this one is the best of the bunch - nice and simple), toasted coconut, Skor bits, flaked almond, vanilla rice krispies, smores and banana on banana (crushed banana chips!)

A few I'm aiming for in the future include white chocolate macadamia, white chocolate apricot, white chocolate pistachio, peanut butter cup, praline, dark chocolate cherry and dark chocolate orange.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

cottage cheese pancakes with rhubarb compote

This morning we ate Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Rhubarb Compote and they are the best pancakes I've ever eaten!

They are very different than your typical pancake. The texture is a little chewy, but it works. They don't even look all that attractive, but when you have them with a side of strawberry rhubarb compote the flavour is out of this world!

Probably the best part of this recipe is how easy they are to make. The reason is because, in the past when I've made pancakes, I've whipped egg whites and used two separate bowls for wet and dry ingredients. Now, when it's early Sunday morning and you have to take care of the dog, grind coffee beans and make baby food all at the same time - these are the pancakes you'll want to make. This takes one bowl and all you do is mix the ingredients together!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

pork chops with bulgur stuffing and quick-marinated yellow squash salad

Last night we had Pork Chops with Bulgur Stuffing and Quick-Marinated Yellow Squash Salad on the side.

I really don't enjoy pork chops and haven't had one in probably ten years. I just have memories of tiny little chops overdone on the bbq. Well, this pork chops w/ bulgur stuffing does an excellent job of disguising all the qualities I dislike in a chop. We enjoyed the stuffing so much I'll probably just make the stuffing as a salad onto itself. Maybe add pork tenderloin slices to it for a full meal. The quick-marinated yellow squash salad name says it all. It really is quick, nice, healthy and fresh in flavour. This really was a nice meal.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a strawberry story

Yesterday was strawberry picking day! I'm super excited to be making jam this year and I'm starting with Strawberries. I put on my strawberry shirt, enlisted Katie for help with Owen and we drove out to Bry-Anne Farms for some mid-day picking.

Here's Owen and I. This is a picture of what NOT to do when you decide to go strawberry picking. First off, don't wear a ridiculous ruffled strawberry shirt. Don't wear sandals or any open toe shoes. Don't leave your leg's exposed. And above all, don't take your stroller for some off-road action into the patch. Somehow after looking totally amateur next to all the galosh wearing expert pickers out there we had tons and tons of fun. Seriously, the bounty was unbelievable out there. I could afford to be totally choosy and pick the brightest and juiciest berries.

We walked out with too many berries than we knew what to do with. I immediately went home and made strawberry jam and banberry jam (what else but a combo of strawberry and banana!). Banberry jam is totally dreamy, how is this not available in the supermarket?

There are so many left overs it kills me. I feel under the gun to get these preserved before they go bad. I'll be having lots of fun for the next few days discovering all the different ways to use strawberries without the use of an oven. Starting off this morning with a strawberry & banana smoothie!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

thinnest crust pizza with ricotta and mushrooms

Last night we had Thinnest Crust Pizza with Ricotta and Mushrooms.

I've made this so many times prior to owning this book. It's a very light dinner and a great way to use up that container of ricotta or the last bit of asiago cheese looming in the fridge. We have a pizza stone which is a great way of making pizzas, but with the oven issue happening right now we had to use the broiler and hope the pizza stone's residual heat toasted the bottom of the pita. It worked out quite nicely. My favourite part of this pizza is the great flavour black pepper imparts. It's one of my favourite ways to enjoy pepper.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

skillet eggs and tomato sauce

This morning Nuno said he was thinking of having eggs for breakfast but didn't know which way to have them. That's when I piped in and offered to make Skillet Eggs and Tomato Sauce.

I checked the recipe and we had everything in our fridge & pantry to whip it up. Yep, even the anchovies. The recipe calls for an anchovy fillet, but you can now find anchovy paste at the supermarket and it's a great option because short of making an anchovy pizza, how can you possibly get through a tin of anchovy fillets without throwing some out? I also modified the cooking process a little bit. To begin it indicates to cook the onions & garlic in oil over medium high heat and cook until onions are soft. I know better than to throw garlic in at the same time as onions because it will surely burn. I've counted several recipes in Everyday Food that ask for garlic to be added way too early and potentially burning. Everything worked out perfectly (thank goodness, I thought yesterday was the beginning of a cooking curse) and this is a definite make again.

lamb chops with pistachio sauce and curried rice salad

Here is last night's Lamb Chops with Pistachio Sauce and Curried Rice Salad. I paired these two dishes because the curried rice called for mint (which I'm currently in excess of) and mint and lamb are a classic pairing. Another pairing I enjoyed was a glass of Inniskillin Pinot Noir with the lamb. It added quite a nice touch to this dinner despite it being a disappointment on every level.

To start, lamb chops are one of the most pricey cuts of meat I've ever purchased. They are so not worth it! I'll probably stick to ordering lamb at restaurants from now on because this recipe was followed to a T (it was still quite rare inside but somehow dry at the same time). It did not do justice to what I always imagined lamb should be. I only ate a couple bites of the lamb but Nuno mentioned he found it tasted like goat. The pistachio sauce definitely helped make the lamb more palatable. The tomato and artichoke sautee was alright. I find grape/cherry tomatoes to be very tart and sometimes seasoning just can't seem to cut the strong acidity. As for the curried rice salad, it was just OK. I found the mint flavour totally overwhelming. I never eat grapes, but that touch was the best part of this salad. If I ever make it again I'll be adjusting the ingredients to taste.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

chocolate mousse

OK, we have our official beyond repair total friggin' disaster of a recipe. It seems so simple, but I managed to fudge up the Chocolate Mousse. I guess it's not really a surprise since I mangled the chocolate sauce for the Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream. Yes, chocolate and I don't mix. I'm a little ticked about this one. It took some cherished ingredients - notably the left over yolks from the Dill Feta Eggs along with some not so cheap chocolate.

Here is the chocolate mousse up to just short of the final step. It set up in the fridge and after taking a taste this could make the most decadent rich truffles you've ever had. So I inadvertently made a ganache. I might try and salvage this if I can come up with a baking recipe that doesn't require the oven.

I actually entertained the thought of tricking all five of you readers into thinking this turned out by buying chocolate pudding and cool whip and taking a photo of it. How could I? I have to be honest even if the truth of working through Everyday Food doesn't always pan out. Oh well, looking back, did I really want to be the only one eating chocolate, heavy cream, egg yolks and sugar? I think this was possibly divine waistline intervention!

You've got the best of me chocolate, I can not tame you. So we'll let this one die gracefully, never to be made again.

strawberries with mint whipped cream

Katie, Owen and I were crusin' around Niagara-On-The-Lake yesterday afternoon when we decided to stop into Harvest Barn. A brand new batch of strawberries were being stocked just as we walked in, so I picked up a basket. I also grabbed a huge amount of fresh mint and rhubarb. After dinner I assembled Strawberries with Mint Whipped Cream.
This recipe has only a handful of fresh ingredients and I assumed I could haul butt and get it done in time to eat strawberries and whipped cream and watch the Bachelorette (I know, but come on - it's a Monday night). Once I got started I realized it was a little more involved than I originally anticipated. You actually have to make a mint infused simple syrup that involves boiling and then cooling. So that made this recipe a bit more time consuming. Another reason this took so long is because I basically doubled the recipe by making a second sugar free batch (substituting sugar for honey) because my hard working husband deserved a chance to enjoy this dessert.

But oh so worth it. This has an incredible flavour, it really couldn't be more perfect for this time of year. All is right with the world when you wait all year for the moment you enjoy a freshly picked strawberry.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

winter crudites, white-bean dip with toasted pita triangles, goat cheese spreads

Saturday was a bar-b-que at my parent's house. My mom asked for me to bring veggies and dip so I decided to make Winter Crudites with Lemon Thyme Dip. The crudites I chose were baby carrots, fennel, zucchini and asparagus. Once I got rockin' I kept it going by making Goat Cheese Spreads and White-Bean Dip with Toasted Pita Triangles. That's four Everyday Food recipes in one day (actually five if you count the Dill-Feta Eggs I made first thing that morning).

Pictured in the brown bowls are Sundried Tomato and Thyme Goat Cheese Spread, Pesto Goat Cheese Spread and the White-Bean Dip. There was also slices of fresh baguette, pitas and assorted crackers.

Last week I was freaking out because The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were playing at the Tralf in Buffalo on a Saturday night. The day I found out I spent most of it thinking that I dreamt this scenario. Their self titled album was my favourite album of last year and was pretty much the soundtrack to my pregnancy.
This is actually our first concert out in a very long time. It almost feels like a decade has gone by or something because I noticed some new things happening around us. Probably the funniest was finding all the kids spending most of their time at the show texting, tweeting and photo taking with their phones. Even though we're parents going to a show we got carded at the door, so I'm not letting myself feel too ancient.
I've never seen a show at The Tralf before and it's a fantastic venue because the acoustics are great. We arrived just as the second act went on because we got caught up at the border (pulled over for a car x-ray). I'm glad we caught the second band because I'd never heard of them but they were really good. They are a bunch of kids called Surfer Blood and really great live. I'll probably end up giving them a chance.

What can I say about The Pains of Being Young at Heart but they were really incredible live. I'm totally in love with their live guitar sound (specifically Kip's guitar). Their album doesn't quite capture the jangly sound in the same way. Only a handful of bands I've grown up listening to capture this sound - The Pastels come to mind.

I couldn't help but have Owen always come back to my mind as we were out. He's become a little acrobat these days always doing yoga style leg raises. He does it so often I attempted to get a photo of it but he got a little camera shy. Today after I took him out of his bouncer I found a penny in the seat. He seems to be so active & flexible the change is falling out of his pockets!